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I will be attending university where my courses include working on AutoCAD 2016 3D, sketchup and Geographic information systems (GIS) softwares. there will I want to buy a laptop that I could use during my university and hopefully professionally in the future. I am not looking for the bare minimum nor top of the line. I would like to invest around $1600 for it. my main requirements are being able to work efficiently, weight under 5 lbs, good battery life

hope someone can help me with these questions
- I did hear AutoCAD will not utilize more than one core as it is not a multi-thread application (is this true even if I will be doing 3D?)
- I was told I would need a dedicated graphics card so is it necessary to go for the i7-xxxxHQ / HK etc or would a i7-xxxxU be better? the reason I ask this because I read that the higher end processors use up a lot of space for integrated graphics and plugging in a graphics card just nullifies all that.
- the laptop I currently own is almost 10 yrs old so I need a new laptop. is it worth trying to invest in an expensive laptop to suit all my needs or should I just get a normal laptop for my personal use and invest in a desktop to use for these softwares?

i find that stores sales people just push a product they want to sell. so i was hoping someone here could suggest me a laptop / specifications that i could look into.

thanks

  • Will you be doing any rendering? What do you know about what you'll be doing on AutoCAD? – timuzhti Sep 28 '17 at 10:12
  • I am not sure yet, but I was hoping to be able to do rendering if required – harry Sep 28 '17 at 21:00
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Most of AutoCAD is single-threaded. It does have a few multithreaded subprocesses here and there, but most of your actual waiting-on-the-computer time is going to be long single-threaded operations. That is in regards to the main GUI application, which you would probably be using most as a student. There is also a program installed with AutoCAD that can be found in its directory called accoreconsole.exe which is basically a commandline only version of AutoCAD that is multi-threaded.

That being said, it is sort of a moot point since you're not shelling out thousands for a workstation with many cores; leaving your options basically to an Intel Core i5 or i7. The difference between the i5 and i7 is that the i5 is cheaper and lacks hyperthreading, while the i7 is more expensive and features hyperthreading(which allows each core to run two separate threads simultaneously). If budget allows, I'd opt for the i7. At work, I tried running the i7's in our mobile workstations without hyperthreading for a while. It did not seem to make a big difference in AutoCAD's performance, but the performance hit while multi-tasking was noticeable, so it was better to run with hyperthreading. The largest cost of those ($3000) mobile workstations was the NVidia Quadros that they had been ordered with. AFAIK, AutoCAD does not use any of the features that Quadros have that Geforces are lacking, so shelling out 5x as much for the Quadro is a waste for only working with AutoCAD. You may notice better performance with a Quadro while using Revit, 3DSMax, Maya, etc.

For a good deal, I would look for a laptop with an i7-4790k, as they are two generations old(cheap), and have single-core clock speeds on par with current generations. If you can find the 4790k in a laptop that also comes with an NVidia Geforce 1080, that would be perfect, but it will likely have a 980 at best given the generation. You will also need a good deal of memory, so shoot for the 4790k's maximum of 32GB. The last essential performance-related component would be your storage. I recommend getting two identical SSDs(256GBx2 or 512GBx2) and run them in RAID0. For peace of mind, you can pick up a third SSD and run in RAID5 so you have at least some sort of failsafe against a dead drive that contained your "big project". The last recommendation I have is get as big a screen as the remainder of your budget allows, screen space is very valuable in AutoCAD.

32GB of RAM and 3x SSDs would be leaning toward the mobile workstation sized laptops. The $3000 machines at work are a couple years old now, so they may be affordable now, especially used. They are the "HP Z-book 17". I personally don't recommend HP, as their business is mostly focused on selling service contracts to businesses, so there's likely something cheaper with equal stats from another manufacturer.

I am not familiar with what AMD has to offer for laptops, so I can't offer any credible alternatives to Intel/NVidia.

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  • Do you have any particular laptops that you recommend? – timuzhti Sep 28 '17 at 10:05
  • thanks a lot.. this is the kind of info I was looking for. my first plan was to get a desktop for this purpose. but I also realized I needed a new laptop as the laptop I have is almost 10 yrs old. so trying to see if i can combine the 2 requirements and get a really good laptop or get a desktop for studies and a cheaper laptop for my personal requirements – harry Sep 28 '17 at 20:17
  • Keep in mind that the manufacturers and computer retailers always sell desktops and laptops with hardware that all has the same model numbers(sometimes with M on the end for Mobile). Don't be fooled into thinking a laptop with an i7-4790k, a GeForce 980 GTX, and 32GB of RAM is the same as a desktop with the "same" hardware. The desktop will be quite a bit faster simply because it uses more power. Laptops, even mobile workstations, sacrifice performance for power savings. – Ricky Marshall Sep 29 '17 at 13:11
  • Since desktop hardware is the benchmark, it's probably more correct to say that a laptop's performance will always be lower than it's desktop counterpart simply because it uses less power. – Ricky Marshall Sep 29 '17 at 13:18
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Autodesk has listed their system requirements for each of their programs and versions their website: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/autocad/learn-explore/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/System-requirements-for-AutoCAD.html

They also have some recommendations listed, which I would go with. Depending on how long you are planning on using this software or planning to upgrade it will make a difference whether to buy a laptop or desktop.

The big advantage of a desktop PC is, that you can add "better" or "newer" parts as soon as the current ones don't hold up anymore. This can become a problem with a laptop, when you either choose to upgrade the software or get larger projects, as it's more complicated to add new hardware to a laptop.

The following can be found here: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/autocad/learn-explore/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/System-requirements-for-AutoCAD-2016.html

System requirements for AutoCAD 2016 Operating System
Microsoft® Windows® 10 (requires AutoCAD 2016 SP1) Microsoft Windows 8/8.1 Microsoft Windows 7 CPU Type Minimum Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ 64 processor Memory For 32-bit AutoCAD 2016: 2 GB (3 GB recommended) For 64-bit AutoCAD 2016: 4 GB (8 GB recommended) Display Resolution 1024x768 (1600x1050 or higher recommended) with True Color Display Card Windows display adapter capable of 1024x768 with True Color capabilities. DirectX® 9 or DirectX 11 compliant card recommended. Disk Space Installation 6.0 GB Pointing Device MS-Mouse compliant device Media (DVD) Download and installation from DVD Browser Windows Internet Explorer® 9.0 (or later) .NET Framework .NET Framework Version 4.5 Network Deployment via Deployment Wizard.

The license server and all workstations that will run applications dependent on network licensing must run TCP/IP protocol.

Either Microsoft® or Novell TCP/IP protocol stacks are acceptable. Primary login on workstations may be Netware or Windows.

In addition to operating systems supported for the application, the license server will run on the Windows Server® 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows 2008 R2 Server editions.

Citrix® XenApp™ 6.5 FP1, Citrix® XenDesktop™ 5.6.

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